Principal, Nogales High School
Assistant Principal, Nogales High School
Ms. Beach graduated from Nogales High School in 1989. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Western New Mexico University in 1994. Then began working in Las Cruces, NM. She worked at a preschool and then went on to teach 6-8th-grade bilingual education at a local middle school. She decided to return to WNMU to pursue her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership which she received in 2000.
She returned to Nogales and taught at the elementary level for four years at Coronado and Challenger Elementary Schools. She also sponsored clubs and activities while at the elementary level. In 2002 she was given the opportunity to move to the middle school to teach and coach. She has coached from one to four sports a year in each of the sixteen years she has been at Desert Shadows Middle School, as well as been the school’s Athletic Director and was the Assistant Principal for three years. She is so excited to have the opportunity to work with high school students and to be a Nogales Apache again! Go Apaches!
Assistant Principal, Nogales High School
Ralph Almanzar is a native New Mexican who was born and raised in Las Cruces. He has been working in education for 30 plus years in various roles (teacher, coach, athletic director, counselor, assistant principal, principal, special education director, superintendent). Mr. Almanzar has worked in some capacity at the elementary, middle school, high school and central office levels. He is currently the assistant principal of Nogales High School in the Nogales Unified School District.
Ralph has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education and a Master of Arts degree with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction and Special Education, both from New Mexico State University.
Ralph enjoys cooking, camping, fishing, reading, traveling and spending time with his wife Claudia and his son Diego. Diego is currently attending his first year as an eleventh grader at Nogales High School.
Athletic Director, Nogales High School
Mr. Sowle graduated from The University of Nevada – Las Vegas in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Athletic Training. Afterwards, he began providing Athletic Training services through Azalea Orthopedics in Tyler, Texas and Sports Medicine instruction at Palestine-Westwood in Palestine, Texas. He served as the Head Athletic Trainer and Sports Medicine Instructor at Westwood ISD for 2 years. During that time, Mr. Sowle earned his NSCA Strength & Conditioning Specialist and AHA BLS/First Aid/AED Instructor Certifications. In 2017, Mr. Sowle moved to Tucson, AZ and accepted a position with Arizona Sports Care, LLC. As an Athletic Trainer with Arizona Sports Care, Mr. Sowle provided Athletic Training services for various schools and events in Southern Arizona, including Nogales High School Athletics.
Mr. Sowle quickly became the Nogales High School Full-Time Athletic Trainer and Sports Medicine Instructor in January of 2018. In August of 2019, Mr. Sowle served an additional role as the school’s Athletic Coordinator before becoming the school’s full-time Athletic Director the following year.
Mr. Sowle recently finished obtaining his Master’s in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University in March of 2021.
Principal, Pierson High School
Mr. Jigar Mehta, newly appointed principal of Pierson High School and NUSD online, believes that education is the most potent tool for transforming the world and is committed to equipping every student with the skills necessary to succeed in an ever-changing world.
Mr. Mehta holds a Bachelor's in Mathematics and a Master's in Educational Leadership and Administration. Mr. Mehta began his journey as a teacher and has since taken on various roles in leadership, such as instructional coach and test administrator, throughout his career. He has conducted numerous seminars and training sessions, equipping over 800 teachers with innovative teaching methodologies and educational technology skills.
Mr. Mehta is the recipient of various awards and recognition. In 2017, he was awarded the distinguished titles of Nogales High School Teacher of the Year, Jackie Scott Ambassador of Excellence, and Santa Cruz County Teacher of the Year, which is a testament to his unwavering commitment to his profession. ASU-Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence recently recognized him for his contributions to STEM education, and he is a member of the ASU impact corps inaugural cohort.
Apart from being passionate about education, Mr. Mehta also cherishes spending time with his family. He indulges in cooking, reading, and taking leisurely walks with his wife and relishes playing with his daughter.
Principal, Wade Carpenter Middle School
Frank Gilvin is excited to be the principal of Wade Carpenter Middle School. Mr. Gilvin received his undergraduate degree from Morehead State University in 1996 and his graduate degree from the University of Phoenix in 2009. He has a passion for student learning and believes in all students. As principal, Mr. Gilvin will strive to meet the educational, social, and emotional needs of the students at Wade Carpenter.
Mr. Gilvin has been in education for the last fifteen years, having taught physical education and science courses. He began administrative work at a charter school in Tucson. He has served in administrative roles, including athletic director and principal. In his last position, Mr. Gilvin was a curriculum service provider for the Tucson Unified School District. Being able to assist and serve as an instructional coach for teachers has helped shape his leadership style as he believes in building teacher leaders.
Mr. Gilvin is committed to providing a safe and rigorous learning environment that enables students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. These are skills necessary for students to transition to high school and beyond. He is proud to be part of the Nogales Unified School District and to serve at Wade Carpenter Middle School.
Assistant Principal, Wade Carpenter Middle School
I'm very excited to be serving our Wade Carpenter Middle School Community as the new assistant principal. I have served NUSD #1 for the past 18 years in different roles. I began working for the district as a library aide at Nogales High School, then went to Bracker Elementary School as the Computer Tech. In 2012, I started my teaching career at A. J. Mitchell Elementary School and was there until June 2022.
I earned my Bachelors of Science from the University of Arizona in 2012 and my Masters in Administration from Grand Canyon University in 2016.
I was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona. I'm proud to say I'm a product of this community and our school district, and I am very humble to be serving my community. I believe that I can support all learners, build relationships with our students and families, help our students be the best version of themselves.
I am the proud mom of two children who also attended and graduated from NUSD #1. I like to travel with my husband and my children, making life- long memories.
Principal, Desert Shadows Middle School
Mr. Christopher Miranda is the proud principal of Desert Shadows Middle School. Mr. Miranda has served NUSD #1 for 15 years in several educational roles. He began his career in 2004 as a computer technician for Desert Shadows Middle School. For eight years he taught Computer Maintenance, Network Technologies, Business Management, and Administrative Services as Career Technical Education (CTE) at Pierson Vocational High School. Additionally, he taught Computer Information Systems (CIS), and Business (BUS) courses at Cochise College. In the summer of 2015 he returned to Desert Shadows as an assistant principal; a position he held for 4 years.
Mr. Miranda earned a Bachelor of Science in 2007 in Information Technology and a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Technology Management (MBA/TM) in 2010 from the University of Phoenix. He pursued further studies in education, as he enrolled at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University and completed the Educational Leadership program in 2014.
Mr. Miranda believes that all students can and must be academically successful. To fulfill this goal the school must provide quality learning opportunities, excellent educators, and thoroughly active parental involvement. He strives to provide a safe learning environment so all students learn to their fullest potential. His mission is to lead Desert Shadow Middle School to be recognized as an “A” school.
Assistant Principal, Desert Shadows Middle School
Ms. Dang is excited to join Desert Shadows Middle School as the new Assistant Principal. She is eager to learn more about the history and culture and work together as a team to keep the school successful. Ms. Dang believes in students having a growth mindset and learning from their mistakes. Each day is a new day and students are able to start over by making good choices.
Ms. Dang received her Bachelor's of Science in Education from the University of Arizona in 2010 and joined the Sahuarita School District, teaching 5th, 2nd and 4th grade classes.In 2018 she earned her Masters from Grand Canyon University in Principal Leadership. While teaching, she served as principal designee, instructional coach, yearbook coordinator, student council representative, Girls on the Run coach, as well as working on committees to help build school and community relationships.
Ms. Dang is an Arizona native, being born in Tucson, raised in Sahuarita, and only living out of the state for 6 years in Texas as a child. She is a proud mom of one son (age 20) who is currently serving in the United States Navy, as an Aviation Electrician specializing in working on helicopters. She enjoys living near her family and taking her dog for play dates with her parents, traveling, kayaking, crafting and reading and spending time with friends.
Principal, Lincoln Elementary School
It is with enthusiasm and deepest sincerity that Saralee Burkett adopts the role of principal at Lincoln Elementary school. She realizes the rich culture, history and academic excellence that coincides with Lincoln and is ready to spearhead new programs while keeping traditions alive.
Ms. Burkett received her undergraduate degree from University of Phoenix in 2012 as well as her Masters in Special Education in 2019. She is currently working toward her doctorate as a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership at Grand Canyon University. She remains a staunch supporter of public education.Prior to becoming a principal, she ran a special education program in Marana Unified School District at Coyote Trail Elementary, where she developed her passion for leadership.
Ms. Burkett stated her goal is to develop a strong relationship with the families, staff, and students at Lincoln with a strong focus on academic and 21st Century skills needed for students to be college and career ready.Ms. Burkett strives to support all learners and believes that promoting inclusion and equity in education is an endeavor worth fighting for.
Ms. Burkett enjoys spending time with her fiance,children, and traveling. Her hobbies are reading,baking, and crafting.
Principal, Mary L. Welty Elementary School
Ms. Silva transitioned from the private sector into education and has developed the required skill set and qualifications for the position of principal. She has an extensive background in child development and curriculum and instruction. She has served at NUSD for over 13 years, nine of which have been as Assistant Principal at Wade Carpenter Middle School. Prior to her leadership assignment, she taught Middle Grades Language Arts.
Ms. Silva has grown and developed as an instructional leader, and has enjoyed building strong relationships with students, staff and parents and looks forward to continuing to do so in her new role.
Ms. Silva is a Nogales native and a product of NUSD. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master's in Secondary Education from the University of Arizona. Her experience within the school environment includes budget implementation, school improvement planning, personnel management, professional development and coaching, as well as student discipline, mediation, and safety. Ms. Silva hopes to inspire generations of lifelong learners and educators to help our students achieve academic and social excellence. Since she is already part of the NUSD community, Ms. Silva will continue to lead the school community with dedication and commitment to fostering continued academic excellence at this A+ school.
Principal, Challenger Elementary School
Ms. Christina Valdez is the newly appointed principal at Challenger Elementary School and has dedicated her career to the life of service to others. As a leader, she strives to bring out the best in students, teachers, and staff and create leaders among leaders. Ms. Valdez believes in providing high-quality education while building meaningful relationships with students, staff, and students' hearts before you can capture their mind.
Ms. Valdez holds a bachelor of arts in journalism with a minor in business from the University of Arizona, a master's in elementary education from the University of Phoenix and a principal certificate from Northern Arizona. Ms. Valdez began her career as a reporter for the Tucson Citizen newspaper and USA Today in Virginia. Wanting to make a difference in the lives of young people, Ms. Valdez changed careers and became an elementary teacher with a focus on educating second language learners. As a teacher and administrator in Tucson for the past 14 years, she has worked in turnaround schools and, as part of the leadership team, has been successful in students reaching high academic success. Ms. Valdez is excited about her new role as principal and believes that the Challenger community is a special place that has amazing parent and community support. She is enthusiastic about continuing the rich traditions of Challenger, including that of becoming a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence once again!
Principal, Coronado Elementary School
Mr. Freddie Villalon was raised in a small farming community in Tolleson, Arizona. Some of his foundational memories are of working in the fields with his family and waiting anxiously for his favorite burritos de huevo con machaca de “mi amá.” His elders always instilled the importance of family and working to achieve their goals, but always with a humble spirit.
Mr. Villalon’s experience in the educational setting started off as a groundskeeper. Eventually, he became an elementary teacher after graduating with a B.A. in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. Later, he earned a Master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University in Educational Leadership. Since then, he has served as a school leader for the past 26 years.
Mr. Villalon is proud and privileged to be part of the Francisco Vasquez de Coronado Familia. This A+ school has received both state and national recognition for educating the whole child. This amazing Coronado team works closely and collaboratively with parents to educate the whole child. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado Elementary is a true reflection of what education is meant to be for all.
Mr. Villalon truly believes that one educator, one parent, one team member, or even one caring individual can shape a child and one child can change the world. Please join our family at Francisco Vasquez de Coronado Elementary, and let us change the world . . . one child at a time.
Principal, A.J. Mitchell Elementary School
Mr. Gabriel Wong is the proud incoming principal of AJ Mitchell Elementary School. He is very honored to have the opportunity to serve as principal and excited to continue the work and carry the torch forward. Mr. Wong believes in visionary-servant leadership and leading with the needs of the team and the communities we serve as the driving principle coupled with ethical and caring behavior providing the team’s moral compass. He believes in creating positive relationships, fostering collaboration, respecting diversity and culture, and believes that all students deserve safe schools that provide high quality instruction and great opportunities for future success.
He was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona to a humble migrant farming family and graduated from Yuma High School. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and moved to Tucson in 2004 to attend the University of Arizona with concentrations in Political Science and Business Administration. During his time at the University of Arizona, he took two yearlong leaves of absence for active-duty military service and overseas deployment. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in August 2009.
Mr. Wong began his career in education nearly thirteen years ago in Tucson at Nosotros Academy, where he taught from 2009-2012. He earned a Master of Educational Leadership in Higher Education & Community College from Northern Arizona University in May of 2012. He began working for Tucson Unified in 2012 and served in various teaching and leadership roles until 2019. During his tenure at Tucson Unified, Mr. Wong earned his graduate certificate in Principalship from Northern Arizona University. In 2019, Mr. Wong accepted the role of assistant principal at Mountain Rose Academy Charter High School, where he worked hard with the administrative team to restructure and implement accountability and academic goals, with positive results: increasing enrollment, and decreasing dropout rate. Most recently, Mr. Wong served as assistant principal at McCartney Ranch Elementary where he helped lead the school through an unprecedented pandemic year while supporting continuity of service for students and families, serving as the school’s testing coordinator, EL coordinator, 504 coordinator, and instructional technology lead.
Mr. Wong has three young boys with his wife of 14 years, who is a fellow educator. His personal interests include science, technology, history, gastronomy, and travelling to Mexico to visit family and learn more about its rich and diverse culture.
Principal, Robert M. Bracker Elementary School
Mr. Joshua Payne is honored and excited to be the new Principal at Robert M. Bracker Elementary School. Mr. Payne brings energy and a passion for academic excellence to the school community.
Mr. Payne was born at Little Company of Mary in Torrance, California, and was raised in San Diego, California. In 1992, he came to the Old Pueblo (Tucson, Arizona), where he has lived happily ever since. He graduated from the newly constructed Catalina Foothills High School in 1997, and immediately became a passionate Spanish language major at the University of Arizona.
After graduation, Mr. Payne began his teaching career in 2003, working for Sunnyside Unified School District. His passion for learning and growing have earned him multiple degrees. He graduated from Pima Community College in Secondary Education, from Rio Salado with degrees in Public Assistance, and Special Education Cross Categorical, a Master of Arts degree in Education from Plymouth State University, and earned a Principal Certification from Lamar University.
Mr. Payne has also worked in the Tucson Unified School District as a Spanish teacher, Language Arts Teacher, Special Education Coordinator, Athletics Coach, Learning Supports Coordinator, Summer Hub Coordinator, Intern Special Education Director, and Multi-Tiered Supports Facilitator at several district schools.